The only area of connection weakness – if it’s really fair to call it that – concerns the TV’s audio output. For while it has an optical digital audio output allowing you to enjoy Dolby Digital 5.1 from your Blu-rays, there’s no way of getting HD audio from Blu-rays to a suitable AV receiver. But then to be honest, it’s unlikely that someone getting a combi product like this will be decked out with a full-on surround sound home cinema system anyway – or at least, a sound system potent enough to benefit from the joys of HD audio.
The first sign of any potentially important flaw in the 40EX43B’s makeup comes with the discovery that it doesn’t have any 100Hz – or higher – video processing, raising concerns about potential motion blur.
The 40EX43BU certainly isn’t devoid of video processing, though. Thankfully it retains Sony’s 24p True Cinema mode for Blu-ray playback – handy given the nature of its inbuilt disc drive. Plus it carries Sony’s Bravia Engine 3 system, which experience has shown to do a fine job of improving a wide variety of picture elements, from colour through to detail and contrast.
Other key facts about the 40EX43B are that it uses standard CCFL backlighting rather than any sort of LED system (hardly surprising given how affordable it is); that it’s got a full HD native resolution; and that it supports PC connection via D-Sub and HDMI ports.
In action the 40EX43B falls less far short of Sony’s standalone TVs and Blu-ray players than we’d expected, thanks to some really startlingly good picture quality.
Kicking off, perversely, with some HD broadcasts via both a Sky HD box and the built-in Freeview HD tuner, we were truly and instantly startled by a number of picture positives.
First up, the image is detailed, sharp, and definitively HD. What’s more, this sense of ‘HDness’ only slips slightly when the TV has to handle lots of motion, despite the absence of any 100Hz processing. In fact, there seems markedly less motion blur and smearing around than we noted recently with Sony’s (in many ways similarly specified) 37EX403.
Also noteworthy are the 40EX43BU’s colours. For they seemingly effortlessly combine impressive richness and vitality with winningly natural tones and even a much greater degree of subtlety than you’ve any right to expect for the TV’s money. This has a particularly positive impact on skintones, which look believably textured and wrapped around people’s faces and bodies rather than patchy or one-dimensionally waxy.
The 40EX43BU’s HD pictures look impressively clean, too. The only grain you see is what’s supposed to be in the picture, and there’s no sign of MPEG noise or ghosted edges.
There’s a touch more judder around than you get with Sony’s 100Hz (and higher) TVs, but it’s only very seldom seriously distracting.
The 40EX43BU’s impressive HD broadcast performance is unsurprisingly bettered by its Blu-ray performance. Blu-rays look even sharper and less prone to noise, and the 24 True Cinema processing tidies up motion without leaving anything looking unnatural or forced.